Last week we had a very rewarding visit to the Byron Bay hinterland to catch up with many of the growers from which we buy green bean, and also a few others. Steve Simmons, from Penny Farthing Espresso /Industry Beans, joined myself and Hamish Elliott, who roasts and also manages our Growers Espresso store/roastery, on our journey around the stunning hinterland region.
The harvest was in the early stages at most plantations, with some of the smaller plantations starting to hand pick early ripening cherry. At the larger plantations the mechanical harvesters were doing initial runs to collect early ripening cherry on the mid to top branches of the trees. Much of the initial stages of harvest/processing is focused on getting the processing systems running well prior to receiving the bulk of prime red/post prime cherry over the coming weeks. It is critical that everything runs as smoothly as possible once the harvesters start to collect the bulk of the harvest.
This year's harvest yield is expected to be slightly down on many plantations, as most achieved high yields the previous year. The expectation is however for better quality cherry with a longer ripening period than that of the previous year - which should result in greater complexity in the cup.
There is also a bigger emphasis on many growers to process a greater percentage of pulped naturals this year. It will be interesting to sample the initial lots to gauge the quality and characteristics of these coffees against washed and also straight natural coffees.
A selection of photos are available on our FlickR: